Apprehending that the cash starved Akali-BJP government in Punjab might be diverting the funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for running its day to day affairs, the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Saturday said that it (the Akali-BJP government) has been delaying the wages to be paid under the scheme within 15 days, by months together.
In a statement, Tewari said that Union Ministry for Rural Development has taken view of the issue and the union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had written to the Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal drawing his attention towards the lapse. “It appears that the state government is diverting the funds that it gets from the central government under MGNERGA as otherwise there is no reason as why the wages should be delayed by months together when these must be paid within 15 days”, the minister observed.
Tewari said, the state had delayed over 55 per cent of the wages amounting to over Rs 55 crore till January beyond the stipulated time period. He added that this was apparently because the state government was diverting the funds allocated by the centre for various public welfare schemes like MGNREGA for other purposes.
He said, Jairam Ramesh in his letter to the CM expressed grave concern over the delay in payment of wages under MGNREGA telling him that this was a grave violation of the basic entitlements of the workers as the MGNREGA stipulates that the wages must be paid within a period of 15 days.